The Comic Creators Project has recently acquired a page of original art of The Big Yin! Started in 1975 by artist Malcolm “Malky” McCormick and featured in the Sunday Times, The Big Yin follows the adventures of well known Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly. It will be displayed later this year.

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Malcolm”Malky” McCormick (1943- ): McCormick’s first published art was a cartoon for a local paper when he was 13. He recalls, ‘I just walked into the local newspaper editor’s office and said: here’s a cartoon… and it was published in the [Glasgow] Mercury and Advertiser. The thrill I got from seeing that cartoon published in the paper was brilliant and it really inspired me.’ After a career in commercial art McCormick started work for D.C. Thomson in 1965, where he worked for three years. While at D.C. Thomson he ghosted for strips including ‘Nero and Zero.’ Ultimately the ghosting life wasn’t for him and he left the comic art scene to return to Glasgow and work as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator.

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In 1975 he teamed up with banjo player and comedian Billy Connolly, and the Sunday Times, to devise ‘The Big Yin’. In an interview for Scotland Now, McCormick states, ‘I was trying to think of a name for the strip we were working on together… At the time, Billy was doing a routine called The Crucifixion, based on the idea that The Last Supper took place in the Glasgow Gallowgate, not Galilee. In the piece, Billy referred to Jesus as The Big Yin (“The Big One”) and I was listening to that one day and I thought, ‘Aye, that’s a good name.’ So in the cartoon, Billy became The Big Yin and I became his sidekick, Wee Man.’

The name Big Yin was also used to refer to Billy Connolly in his personal life. In Pamela Stephenson’s biography, ‘Billy’, she writes that the nickname was used to differentiate him from his father whose name was also Billy. Connolly remembers, ‘So, we’d go into the pub and someone would say, ‘Billy Connolly was in.’ ‘Oh? Big Billy or Wee Billy?’ ‘The Big Yin.’ ‘Oh, Wee Billy.’ If you were a stranger, you’d think, ‘What are these people talking about?’

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Our brand new acquisition is written in phonetic Scottish dialect and refers to the exploits of Princess Anne and the royal family! Come down to the Cartoon Museum later this year to see it on display.

Billy Connolly (1942- ):  Billy Connolly started his career as a folk musician and later made it big as a comedian, presenter, and actor. You may know him from his work in The Boondock Saints, Brave, and Muppet Treasure Island. We’ve included links below of Billy doing his stand up which inspired McCormick! There’s several parts so make sure you don’t miss the other ones!

Citation

BBC “Blast Scotland” website – “Interview with Malky McCormick”: www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/blast/movers/malky_mccormick.shtml

Billy Connolly. Billy Connolly’s World Tour of Australia. 1995, CD.
Lesley Roberts “Scotland’s Own Comic Book Hero”, Sunday Mail, 23 June 2002, pp.39-4

Stephenson, Pamela. Billy. London: HarperCollinsEntertainment, 2001.

Credits

We would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting our work at the Comic Creators Project.

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*All images and characters that appear in this site are copyright of their respective holders, and are used for informational purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended.

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